On the edge

Tomasz Mrozewski straps on his jesus slippers and heads out meet Meghan McCabe at the Edge of the Water

If you ever wondered what it would be like to see someone dance in point shoes to Mark Bragg’s Plans for the Boys, here’s your chance. For one night only this Sunday you can catch dancer/choreographer Meghan McCabe’s show Edge of the Water at the Majestic Theatre.

The twist to this particular show is that the music is taken from Mark Bragg’s two albums, and the Mark Bragg Band will in fact be playing the show live. This will present its own unique challenge to musicians and dancers alike. The dance is choregraphed and mostly rehearsed to the recorded songs, and although the choreography does provide for some leeway, the musicians will have to play as closely to the tempo of the albums as possible, which is itself a departure from their usual approach to live shows.

McCabe’s aiming for a night-club feel to the show. Dancers will perform on the floor as well as the stage, getting up close and personal with the band. There’ll be tables and drinks, rather than a traditional theatre setting.

McCabe promises a whole smorgasborg of dance styles, from contemporary ballet to modern, to jazz and ballroom numbers.

Bragg says that, as far as he’s aware, Lynn Panting (who also dances in this show) once did an interpretive dance to a recording of one of his songs before, although this is the first time that the live band has been fused with live dance in quite this way.

The idea for the show came when McCabe was in Toronto this past winter, in her last semester of classes in the dance program at George Brown College. When she listens to music, she says, she tends to think of movement and dance, and Mark Bragg’s music seemed particularly evocative of movement. She had been toying with the idea of choreographing a dance piece to a live rock band, so she emailed Bragg out of the blue with a proposal.

Bragg says he was totally surprised, but impressed by McCabe’s plan. She then applied for an NLAC grant to mount the show when she returned to town this summer. And the big night is just around the corner.

The aesthetic of the dance will definitely have a strong base of pop, which is nothing new to the dance world. Even more traditional companies are making the move to pop programs as bums get harder to attract to seats. The almighty dollar is a tough reality for all artists to face these days, much to the lament of those who pine for something more "pure".

For her part, McCabe makes no apologies for the show’s apparent impurities. She likes the music, she likes the dance, and thinks there should be no shame in appealing to an audience. And we have to agree.

– Tomasz Mrozewski